Editorials

Boise city open-space levy: Yes, again. Officials explain the error, earn another chance

Statesman Editorial Board

Boise’s $10 million levy in 2001 to protect open space in the Boise Foothills was a success, but the 2015 redux hit a snag when the city filed the wrong paperwork to collect the first year’s worth of money.
Boise’s $10 million levy in 2001 to protect open space in the Boise Foothills was a success, but the 2015 redux hit a snag when the city filed the wrong paperwork to collect the first year’s worth of money. Statesman file

In 2001, the Statesman endorsed the pioneering $10 million levy that gave the city of Boise money to buy and preserve land and easements in the Boise Foothills. That’s been an unalloyed success, preserving much more than $10 million worth of land, trails and open space for the benefit of hikers, bikers, dog walkers, wildlife and scenic vistas.

Against that background, our Editorial Board endorsed the 2015 levy, $10 million over two years with a slightly broader aim to preserve not just open space, but also buy park space and invest in water-quality projects citywide.

So it was with alarm that we learned this fall that a paperwork error meant the city hadn’t collected the first $5 million in the two-year levy.

[EARLY VOTING NOW UNDER WAY, through Nov. 3. Info: visit the elections websites for Ada County or Canyon County, or call 208-287-6860 (Ada) or 208-454-7562 (Canyon).]

[RELATED: More on all the candidates and issues in the Nov. 7 election at the Statesman voter guide. ]

Our Editorial Board met with city officials and reviewed the confusing forms that governments file with the tax assessor to request levy monies be collected. We asked ourselves two sets of questions:

Did city officials own up to their mistake? Are they making it right? Are they taking steps to prevent similar mistakes?

The answers are yes.

Has the city used the $10 million it got in 2001 wisely? Can Boise benefit from new money? Does the response to this mistake give us confidence that city officials and staff will wisely watch over this new money?

Yes, again.

If you are worried, as we were, that the mayor or other officials were taking the snafu lightly, or minimizing their error, rest assured they are not. “We’re not being casual,” Mayor Dave Bieter told our board. “We’re here because we’re not casual.”

Said Bieter: “Obviously we made a mistake, and we made a big one. But, credit to the council, we came out and … said, ‘Here’s what happened. It’s regrettable. Here’s our fault, here’s the correction.’ 

We’re persuaded that the mayor is right and that a vote to correct and reauthorize the two-year levy on the Nov. 7 ballot is a wise one.

Unsigned editorials represent the opinions of the Statesman Editorial Board.

  Comments